One day my trombone teacher and I had a conversation about my stage fright. Stage fright can manifest both mentally and physically. Shorter breathing and quivering appendages are not great when you need to breath and blow with good posture. It’s not a pleasant experience. Perhaps the worst part though, is the non-stop thinking about whether you’ve practiced enough and what the people in the audience will think if you make a mistake (or twelve).
So it’s important to know two things – first, you can control how much you prepare and second, you cannot control what people in the audience think. But despite the fact that you cannot control what people think, what you need to be aware of is your assumptions. You’re assuming the people are thinking the worst things and that they’re thinking them about you and your performance. And, just like most situations in life, you are almost certainly wrong about those assumptions.
Unlike most situations in life, when you put yourself out there – whether its on a stage performing, or on the court playing, or in the meeting presenting – not only are the people not thinking bad things about you – most of them are rooting for you.
If you do well, they will be excited to tell people they know you. They’ll love the impact you have on them. They’ll remember your idea and how you executed it. They’ll be inspired to do their own thing.
So when you’re not sure, when you’re second-guessing, when you’re afraid – remember that if you’ve prepared, you are as ready as you can be.
And when you look into the audience, as the self-doubt starts to creep in, just remember: we’re rooting for you.
Tim Arnold says
Really great thought. Preparation is what you can control. I continue to learn they if I do what I can, to the best of my abilities, fear of what others think or my my own doubts diminishes.
So true – the real trick is not falling into the trap of perfection!